Noises Off

Over the three day weekend, maybe it was Sunday night, a tenant knocked on my door. At 1:30am. And the building was not on fire or flooding.

Startled awake by the loud rapping on the door, I bolted upright thinking, “Do I have zit cream on my face?!” Because trust me when I tell you that this is a fear of mine- that I will forget I put it on and answer the door in my half-awake state with a big white dot of blemish medicine on my chin. This to me would be more embarrassing than wandering the halls braless, which is totally what I ended up doing.

Apparently Smell Lady has decided her new nemesis is noise. Standing there with a hat on, sweat pants, a t-shirt and a towel wrapped around her shoulders (Why? I have NO IDEA.), she told me that there was someone playing loud music and she couldn’t sleep. Groggily, I followed her upstairs and stood outside her apartment listening. Looking at me she says eagerly, “You hear it?” Um, no. I hear nothing. I hear my bed calling me. Her neighbor is out on the balcony smoking so I ask him if he’s playing music or anything. “I’m watching a movie,” he said somewhat befuddled. I asked him if he could try turning the volume down a bit and see if that helped. Meanwhile, cape lady is just standing there awkwardly in the hallway. She is a grown woman in her forties with a ten year old kid and she can’t handle this shit on her own? She thanked me and I shuffled on back to my apartment.

Not fifteen minutes later, she knocks again. This time, I’m not as nice when I answer the door because HELLO it is 2am and I am not amused. She claims she’s figured out which apartment it is that is playing the music. The offending apartment is on the floor below her (my floor) and across the stairwell from her. Explain to me how noise from below would carry up and across a fucking stairwell. I just don’t get it.

But of course, I deal with it. I could only hear the music when I stood directly in front of the apartment. I knock on the door and crazy cape lady throws a hasty “thanks” my way and rushes upstairs. When then tenant playing music answers, she’s just as confused as I am when I tell her that her music is keeping someone up. She was nice about it and since no one knocked again, I assume it resolved itself. I went back to bed annoyed and unable to fall asleep for close to an hour.

On Tuesday night another tenant called at 10:30pm saying there were people outside of her bedroom window smoking and talking. Um, yeah, that’s what people do outside. She claims this happens a lot and that she has not complained about it before but it’s a problem. Especially that night since she had to be up early the next day for work. I asked her, “Have you poked your head outside and asked them to keep it down?” She replied, “Well, no.” Ok, here’s where people really start to irritate me. What the hell is the problem with politely asking someone to keep it down when you are trying to sleep? Calling the manager to handle these petty annoyances just makes you look like a tattle tale and a passive aggressive wimp. Or maybe I am projecting.

“I really encourage you to handle this directly with your neighbor. He’s a very understanding guy and would probably feel bad knowing he was keeping you up.” She hemmed and hawed saying she’d talk to him the next time she saw him and then said in a rush, “Oh they went inside!” thus relieving her of dealing with it for another day. I understand confrontation is scary. I don’t particularly relish in it myself but I am glad I told her that she needs to deal with that, not me. I am not doing anyone any favors by catering to these paltry complaints.

I will tell you this though- I am THIS close away from handing out earplugs to all my tenants.


72 thoughts on “Noises Off

  1. a) My job involves dealing with condo disputes and seriously people HAVE WAY TOO MUCH TIME and not enough common sense.

    b) I sleep with ear plugs and they are totally awesome – you hear NOTHING and get a great nights sleep. More people need this.

  2. Wow… I’ve been a tenant before, but never a super or a landlord, and I must say, I’m certainly seeing things from a different perspective! Hope you get some sleep this weekend!

  3. You should hand out earplugs with a little note that says something like ‘your destiny is in your hands’

    or maybe just ‘I’ve got a pair of these too, so if you call me, I won’t hear you. Good luck!!’

  4. YOur tenants don’t seem to be able to grasp the difference between true annoyances and shit that naturally comes with the fact that you choose to live in a building with shared walls and ceilings. Your Smell Lady seems extra sensitive to everything — is it worth going inside her place to see if you can really hear anything that’s over the top? The other one, if she doesn’t like the voices/smoke, sounds like she needs to shut her window!

    Well, it sounds like it’s at least good practice for parenting πŸ™‚

  5. Maybe you should make the rule that I made with my kids. As long as no one is on fire, bleeding, vomiting, hurt or terrified no one may bother me between the hours of 11 pm and 5 am. I don’t give a crap if my kids sleep during those hours but I need to or no one will be happy!

  6. Your patience is amazing. I think you should just tape a box of earplugs to your door and be done with it!

  7. I have no idea how I’d deal with that. I couldn’t imagine not at least attempting to handle any of those situations myself.

  8. I’m sorry you have to deal with these wackos. My gosh, people…grow a set and go talk to the offenders yourself! Sheesh!

  9. I would write a letter to everyone telling them that if the building isn’t on fire or flooding then they should handle it themselves. They are adults, right? But with the letter attach some earplugs for those who can’t confront their neighbors.

  10. You should probably hand out nose plugs with the ear plugs! Sounds like that lady is having some issues that she doesn’t know how to take care of on her own. Of course that doesn’t make it your problem.

  11. People are stupid. And you are so much more patient than I ever would be.

    I wonder if you could (with the owner’s approval hand out a notice, defining hours of work and when it is appropriate to call the manager. (I’m on call for work and we actually greatly reduced the number of calls this way.)

  12. i would send out a notice to folks…like in the snail mail encouraging people to be *smart* about calling you. not that you don’t want to be helpful, but it is an apt building and if everyone were friendlier with each other, it would be easy to just -talk to the annoyance-

    the manager is there for you when something is wrong, as in TERRIBLY wrong, like a fire, housing a drug operation, neverending dog barking, naked drunk people, etc

    people need to grow up and COMMUNICATE!

  13. that sounds so annoying. is there any way to have a whole apartment complex meeting with everyone to discuss all these issues out in the open, and come up with some sort of agreed upon solution? like, okay, if someone is being loud, or emitting some noxious scent, it’s okay to go to them directly and ask them to stop-THEN, and only then, come to the manager. or maybe you should just issue a proclamation to everyone.

    her poor poor child.

  14. Ahhh, community living. There’s such a delicate balance between, hello, you live among other people, you’re going to hear noise and the peace of being able to live in your own home. Stinks that you’ve signed up to mediate. Though, I like the idea you’re beginning to ask people if they’ve tried to resolve it on their own. You’re the building manager, not the damn principal.

  15. My landlady told me when I moved in to my apartment that if I had any problems with my neighbors (I live in a house split into three apartments)I had to deal with it myself.Which is what I do. Sometimes I have violent, scary neighbors and in that case I just live with the noise. I would not have your job for all the world as it seems noise in apartment buildings is a never ending kind of thing. I don’t know perhaps you should hand out a memo or something. Good luck.

  16. Ha! I was totally going to say “You should buy earplugs for all the tenants” and then you ended the post with that!

    I agree with some of the other commenters who said to give everyone a letter telling them to deal with it themselves before coming to you. Disturbing your sleep is not cool.

  17. I agree with everyone – your tenants are way more than ridiculous with coming to you about such minor incidences. I can’t recall off the top of my head how big/small your complex is. If it’s less than, say, 30 units I’d call a Tenant Meeting and have them all meet in a common area for a few minutes. You’re less likely to complain about people that you know and you’re less likely to pester people that you know – so by having them talk to their neighbors, even for 5 minutes, might help. Also you can lay down some rules with a threshhold for when to call you, when to work it out themselves, etc. Neighbor’s TV too loud – talk to them about it. Someone screaming in pain – call the police. If neighbor’s toilet is leaking into your apartment – call Landlord.

    About the towel: we were wearing towels on Sunday too because it was Towel Day which is a tribute to Douglas Adams. We are also dorks. BUT we win points for not bothering our Landlord. πŸ™‚

  18. I’m not going to lie, I have called my manager several times on my neighbors in past apartments instead of talking to the neighbors myself.
    I haven’t really lived in great places and these neighbors were men and high.
    Since we’ve moved to a different city, It’s so much easier, I have a great rapport with my neighbors.

  19. You are a FAR more patient person than I. That would drive me frickin bonkers if someone woke me up, NOT ONCE, but TWICE in the middle of the night. Honestly. She probably used WAY more energy waking up up and explaining everything, than she would had she just done it herself. I feel your frustration!

  20. Oh I would not last a day in that job. ha. ha. Glad you told the lady to try handling it herself first.

    Maybe you could put signs on each floor saying…

    No bugging the Sizz after 10PM cuz she’ll kick your ass if she has to answer the door with zit cream on her face. ha. ha. Handle the noise yourself or tell me in the morning people!!


  21. Wow – I understand not liking confrontation, but that’s just crazy. If someone is keeping you up at 2 am, go talk to them yourself. Don’t wake someone else up to do it. I would think that’s common sense. So it’s perfectly okay for her to wake you up, but not okay for her to be woken by someone else?! Sheesh.

  22. Every time I read these stories, I’m taken back to my days as an RA and Hall Director as I’ve told you. And it scares me more and more to realize how futile it is to hope that people mature. And there’s my dodgeball adventures of course.

  23. Earplugs, like beer, are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. You’re welcome to use that in your letter to your tenants. πŸ˜€

  24. Foam earplugs (which work quite well) come in bulk packs (at least 50 pairs) for not that much. Been a while since I bought mine, but they were either from Costco or one of the major hardware stores.

    Smell Lady needs to be turned away next time to deal with her neighbors herself, methinks.

    I’m a wuss when it comes to much confrontation, but it has never occurred to me ask an apt. manager to tell neighbors to be quiet or unsmelling. I always tried to keep a low profile with landlord types.

    Can you institute a fee for noise complaints after /between certain hours? $20-30 every time someone goes to you for something non-vital between 10 PM and 8 AM, say (different hours for weekend maybe). People are cheap- I bet they’d start dealing, or at least you’d make some nice change.

  25. OMG! I know children who are better at resolving conflict than these two alleged adults. Might have something to do with the kids learn real fast when you say, “So you want me to decide about who gets to play with the soccer ball? Or do you think you can resolve this on your own? Because you know what my solution is going to be…” enough times.

  26. Are you kidding me? How old is smell lady? I’m just thinking maybe she needs to be in an senior living complex. She might be more happier in that kind of setting.

    Ayyyy. You have to deal with sooo much of people’s junk … that must be frusterating!

  27. I’ve been in two apartment situations where earplugs were simply powerless against that which I was using them for. Most all other occassions that I wear them to try to help, they work just fine.

    In one of the forementioned two occassions, I just moved from the apartment. My neighbors all sucked, I didn’t like them, they didn’t like me, so it was time to move on. My landlady let me out of my lease, but kept my deposit. I felt that was fair in that case.

    In the other situation, it came very close to the offending parties being kicked out of the apartment building. But we worked things out after a few months of trouble between all of us, and then I moved out instead, so they could go back to their carousing, drunken, 3 a.m. video-game-playing ways (um, it was hooked up to a sound system…so the explosions in the video game made it sound like our apartment building was under attack. AT 3 A.M.!!!), and I could move back to quiet ol’ Kansas where I belonged.

    My point is, sometimes the earplugs work. Sometimes, they don’t. Sound like they’d be friends for the lady in your building, Siz. Perhaps she has a birthday coming up soon, hm? I know what you could get herrrr!!!

  28. I have talked to my managers about noise, but only persistent, they would not listen to me, noise. And only after I had tried multiple times to talk to my neighbors.

    But then I think we all know that I have no problem with confrontation.

  29. Wow!

    Is it terrible that if some lady showed up at my door with a towel cape I would not be able to keep a straight face? Seriously.

    This line got me…Have you talked to them? Um, no. Your Tenants Kill ME!

  30. To hell with the earplugs. Hand out Xanex instead. And tell them to take the pills and shut up.

    Second idea: a sign on your door that says “Waking me up better be so worth it!”

    Mayberry Magpie

  31. Hi, I sometimes hear birds chirping in the morning. Could you have a word with our flying, singing friends and tell them to shut up? Also, the sun is a bit bright in the morning, can you do something about that?

  32. WTF. I have never complained to my building manager, RA or any such person. Deal with it yourself or deal with not sleeping. Why do they need to wake you up to tell you they aren’t sleeping. So now you are both not sleeping. Office hours unless there is an emergency. You do not get paid enough to deal with this shit.

  33. I’ve complained to my landlord before taking it to the tenant, but that’s because she seemed 100% off her rocker. Turns out she’s only about 98% off her rocker.

  34. I used to get aggravated with the noise made my fellow tenants but I never really did anything about it. I didn’t ask them to stop, and I didn’t call the landlord. However, after reading your entries on this, I’ve walked over a few times and asked them to turn the music down. They comply and don’t get nasty with me. I figure if it’s past 10 on weekdays and 11/12 on weekends, it’s okay for me to complain. Otherwise I “suffer” through it.

    But, there is absolutely no way I’d contact my landlord at 1:00 in the morning. In fact, I make a point to call between 9 AM and 9 PM. If it’s not an emergency, it can wait.

  35. I don’t have the patience for that crap. When I was a kid, I was talking to my mom in her room one night when my sister busted in to complain I was too loud and she was TRYING TO SLEEP. Being a smartass with less than great people skills, I told her she obviously wasn’t trying hard enough.

    She kicked the shit out of me.

  36. OK these people in that building are crazy. They can’t seem to handle these little problems themselves. Scary whimps. lol

    You are good in telling the last person to deal with the situation on their own.

    Knocking on your door at 2am is totally unacceptable. I would send a notice to all tenants to not knock on my door after 9pm unless the damn building is on fire or someone is dying

  37. Why are people so spineless and want to run to their pseudo-mommies for help instead of resolving things on their own? Is this the whole Gen-Y phenonemon that I keep reading about?

  38. OMG! these people are acting like effing children.

    the cape lady insists on acting like a child tell her the next time she knocks on your door in the middle of the night there better be a fire or she is grounded!

  39. What a pain in the arse….your tenants. Can’t they think for themselves and try to figure it out. Yeah, earplugs would be a great idea.

  40. I’m amazed at how many people knock on your door for stupid crap they are afraid to handle themselves. I think rather than earplugs, you should have a mandatory party and make everyone talk to each other and make everyone tell one thing that bothers them. Get it off your chest all at once and maybe they will see it’s not so scary!

  41. I absolutely A-D-O-R-E your new template. Totally suiting for you, totally everything πŸ™‚ I haven’t been on your site in ages but oh look at little FINN .. what a cutie pie…. glad things are going well for you!

  42. Strange. Being a building manager sounds a lot like being an RA in a college dorm. (I’ve never been a building manager, but I’ve been an RA. I hope building manager pays better for the trouble and annoyance.)

  43. hehe, this job just sounds like one crazy incident after the next. how do you keep your cool at that hour of the morning? i’m such a bitch i’ve i’m woken up from sleep πŸ˜‰

    i can kinda see why they wouldn’t want to ask themselves, though. maybe it’s different in america but here in the uk you can get stabbed for asking your neighbour to turn his music down. or they can just harass you until you eventually admit defeat and leave town. people are weird with their neighbours in this country.

  44. I think I would probably have taken matters into my own hands and place a letter on every fucking tennant.

    ‘Please stop acting like children’

    or something to that effect.

    ‘I only intervene for legitimate complaints’

  45. I have to say this, as a former renter, it can be a hassle to ask neighbors to quiet down. Sometimes it backfires and only pisses them off. I usually would try once and then I would get management involved. This is one of the big reasons we got a house, the noise factor.

    You really do have a tough job. I like the earplug idea. I wore them for a short time when we lived in the International District.

  46. I have had issues with my neighbours on noise issues and no, not the grow op people:)

    Kudos to you for handling it so well though. Knowing how it is with 2 jobs…can get stressful at times.

    How much are earplugs and can you expense them? Great Idea.

  47. Instead of handing out earplugs to others, I suggest a slightly different approach: do a Holly Golightly. When someone bangs on your door, open it and look at them with a semi confused look while they rant and rave and rave and rant. Then when they are done, you pull out YOUR earplugs and cluelessly ask “huh?” – For extra measure, you could also wear one of those blindfolds and have big bright eyes painted on it framed with super long lashes. Try it once… I dare you!

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